WEST ALEXANDRIA — During Tony Augspurger’s tenure as Twin Valley South’s boys basketball coach, the rivalry with Tri-County North has been mostly one-sided — in favor of his team — with the exception of a few stretches.
Currently, the rivalry is in one of those stretches where it could go either way.
North got the best of South last season, but South returned the favor on Friday, Dec. 14.
Jayden Bassler poured in a career-high 23 points to lead Twin Valley South to a 62-52 win.
Round Two of the rivalry for this year is scheduled for the first round of the Preble Shawnee Holiday Tournament on Friday, Dec. 28.
“It’s been a lopsided rivalry except for a couple of times in basketball. There have been three different stretches where North has been pretty dag-gone good and we’ve had some real fierce battles,” Augspurger said. “Obviously, the last three, four years has been one of them. They’ve done a really nice job. They’ve got good players. They’ve already beaten Arcanum, who’s one of the better teams in our league. They’ve played Madison, who’s got a huge reputation and they played them really well.”
But on this night it was Bassler and company who left with bragging rights.
Bassler, a senior, knocked down five 3-pointers to lead a trio of Panthers in double figures.
“Jayden was phenomenal,” Augspurger said.
Senior Willie Bowman scored 17, 10 in the fourth quarter, as South outscored North 21-12 over the final eight minutes.
Senior Nate Osborn added 11, all in the first half.
“We’ve got a multitude of weapons,” Augspurger said. “We haven’t been completely weapon free for the last decade, but we haven’t had the weapons that we have now. Tonight was Jay’s night. I thought Nate did a great job in the first half, along with him (Jayden) to get them going. Willie hit some big stuff late. He certainly did not have as good a night as he would have liked to have had. But he fought and battled.”
Junior Cole Peterson sat out the first half with an injury and Augspurger wasn’t sure he wanted to play him.
But the 6-5 junior played most of the second half and was a presence in the lane.
“We were hoping we didn’t have to play him. He barely practiced this week,” Augspurger said. “I thought he did a really good job, especially defensively altering shots and blocking shots.”
North held an 18-17 lead after the first quarter as both teams shot about 50 percent from the field. The shooting cooled a bit in the second and South took a 31-29 lead at the half.
In the third, South led by as many as five, 40-35, before North rallied to trim their deficit to 41-40 after three.
In the fourth, South opened with an 8-2 run for a 49-42 lead with just over six minutes left in the game. South led 54-45 with just over three minutes left, but could never put the game out of reach.
North closed the gap to six (56-50) with just over a minute left and had chances to get closer, but failed to execute down the stretch.
“I was frustrated with the fact that we didn’t put them away,” Augspurger said. “Again, totally give them credit. They played well. They’re a good team. They’re going to win a lot of games. They won a lot of games last year.
For North, the Stinson brothers – Brian and Dylan – led the way with 19 each.
North coach Joe Smith called it a “typical” North/South game.
“It’s what I want. I think it’s what Tony wants. We want a battle,” Smith said. “It’s a fun game to be a part of. It came down to execution in my mind. We didn’t make layups. We didn’t make free throws. We had opportunities. We had plenty of them. There’s no reason why we lose by 10. I give them the credit. I knew they were going to be tough. They executed and we didn’t.”
North won’t have to wait a year for a rematch.
“We play then in two weeks. We have the opportunity to avenge this loss. Like I told the guys in there, it should hurt,” Smith said. “Tony’s been here 30-plus years and he’s never lost back-to-back to North. He’s only lost so many times. I tried to get my seniors to realize they had a chance to do something big here.”
On Saturday, North dropped a 58-32 contest at Meadowdale. Preston Jackson led the team with nine point and eight rebounds.
South (4-1, 1-0 CCC) was scheduled to play at National Trail on Tuesday, Dec. 18. The two teams met on Dec. 1 in the final of the Twin Valley South Holiday Tournament and Trail came away victorious, 40-31. On Friday, South will travel to Miami East for another key league contest.
North (1-3, 1-1), is scheduled to host National Trail on Friday and Carlisle on Saturday.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH